UC Law SF Communications and Entertainment Journal


David J. Cowan


The broadcast of east coast presidential voting returns before the polls have closed in western time zones has led two western states to enact legislation limiting the media's access to polling places on election day. Proponents of such statutes argue that allowing the media to obtain exit poll data and project the winners before the polls close discourages voters and leads to skewed election results. In Daily Herald Co. v. Munro, the 9th Circuit held that the State of Washington's poll closing statute violated the first amendment if its purpose was to prevent broadcasting of early election returns. The author argues that the limitation that a narrowly tailored poll closing statute imposes on the first amendment rights of the media is justified as an exercise in ensuring that each citizen has a chance to express his opinion through his vote.